Bridgewater Recreation Reserve occurs within some of the region's best quality habitat. Cox Creek runs through it, a tributary to the Mt Bold Reservoir, providing water supply to greater Adelaide. There are a number of threatened native plant species that occur on site, including the Spotted Sun-orchid, Ploughshare Wattle, Candlebark, Pink & Manna Gums, Mount Lofty Phebalium, Short-awn Wallaby-grass and Native Broom. It also provides habitat suitable for many threatened species of native wildlife, such as the Shining Bronze-cuckoo, White-throated Treecreeper, Spotted Pardalote, Scarlet Robin, Brush Bronzewing, Common Brushtail Possum, Bassian Thrush and Yellow-footed Antechinus. Although not currently listed as threatened, the local Rakali, a protected sepcies, also lives in Cox Creek.
The Reserve has been maintained and improved over time through Council's annual works programs and Bush For Life volunteer activities. In 2021, Council launched the "Riparian Restoration of Cox Creek in Bridgewater Recreation Reserve" Project in partnership with the Bridgewater Friends of Cox Creek and Bush for Life, increasing efforts towards the goals of protecting and improving habitat and water quality of the watercourse, riparian zone and Blechnum bogs, through weed control and revegetation with local native plants.
Project partners also include Conservation Volunteers Australia and Aldgate Primary School. It is supported by the Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board’s Grassroots Grants Program, and is funded by the landscape levy and Adelaide Hills Council. If you would like to become involved, please contact the Bridgewater Friends of Cox Creek or Bush for Life.
The community-led Bandicoot Superhighway Project aims to save the Southern Brown Bandicoot from extinction, and has a long term vision to foster a ‘highway’ of interconnected habitat throughout the Mount Lofty Ranges. Project partners include The Sturt Upper Reaches Landcare Group, The Nature Conservation Society of SA, The Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board, Green Adelaide, National Parks and Wildlife SA, The University of Adelaide and Friends of Parks Groups.
The project partners are working to:
- Increase the Bandicoot’s available habitat through community and corporate planting events
- Raise awareness, and involve the community in Bandicoot monitoring
- Use ecological burning to maintain and improve habitat quality (in collaboration with government partners)
- Undertake careful weed control to keep habitat healthy
- Fence remnant vegetation from grazing animals
- Trial establishing new sub-populations of Bandicoots to reduce their risk of extinction
Led by the Friends of Black Hills and Morialta, the Muraltia Partnership is an initiative aimed at eradicating the invasive weed Muraltia hesteria and preserving the natural beauty and ecological integrity of the Adelaide Hills. By actively addressing the threat of Muraltia, we can protect our native vegetation, support endangered species, engage the community, and create a more resilient ecosystem for generations to come.
Muraltia had 85 identified infestations across key locations of the Central Adelaide Hills in 2021. The locations include in Morialta, Giles, and Horsnell Gully Conservation Parks, as well as on a number of private properties and Council road reserves in between. Its ability to thrive in steep heathy ecosystems, where other woody weeds have yet to emerge, the similarity of the Adelaide Hills habitat with respect to its native habitat in South Africa and the way the species persists even after years of concerted effort by many over the past 20 years underscores the urgency of addressing this threat to protect the unique biodiversity of our region. Had nothing been done in the past this weed would be far more widespread in the region than it currently is.
The Partnership brings together numerous organisations and volunteers, ensuring a collaborative and comprehensive approach to combating this invasive weed. The project is supported by Friends of Black Hill & Morialta (FOBHM), National Parks and Wildlife Service of South Australia (NPWS), Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board (HFLB), Adelaide Hills Council (AHC), Fourth Creek Catchment Group (FCCG), Morialta Biolink Landcare Group (MBL), Biology Society of South Australia (BSSA), Climbing Club of South Australia (CCSA), Trail Running SA (TRSA), private landowners, and Threatened Plant Action Group volunt
The Mount Lofty Ranges of South Australia is nationally recognised for its ecological significance as one of Australia’s ‘biodiversity hotspots’. The region supports a remote island of native woodland that is separated by hundreds of kilometres from similar habitat in south-eastern Australia.
The Nature Conservation Society of South Australia's Mount Lofty Ranges Woodland Bird Monitoring Program is a long-term program, initiated by Professor Hugh Possingham, Drew Tyre and Dr Scott Field in 1999. It aims to collect & assess evidence for population declines in woodland birds through repeated surveys of 165 sites throughout the Mount Lofty Ranges – from Kaiserstuhl Sanctuary in the north to Deep Creek Conservation Park in the south.
Results from the past 23 years show that some large generalist bird species and Cuckoos are becoming more common, while many smaller insectivorous and frugivorous birds are becoming less common. More than half of all species (38/65) have declined, while 11 species have significantly increased.
The data can be used to indicate the success or failure of habitat restoration and rehabilitation, such as fencing, revegetation, prescribed burning, feral control or weed removal. Results from monitoring will also address:
- The drivers of small insectivorous and frugivorous bird decline
- Priority conservation management tools for protecting and restoring woodlands
- The response to fire management including suppression, fuel reduction burns and ecological burns
- The impacts resulting from climate change and land use changes.
Bushland is precious to our state’s biodiversity and plays a pivotal role in ecosystem services, such as clean air, clean water and pollination. Healthy bushland is more resilient and better able to withstand threats such as weed invasion and climate change. With less than 15% of the native bush remaining in the Adelaide region, the bushland we know and love is struggling to survive. Bush regeneration is about helping the bush heal itself by encouraging natural regeneration and managing environmental weeds.
Trees For Life’s Bush For Life (BFL) program was created in 1994 to help people take practical steps to conserve, restore and protect these vital bushland remnants through bushland regeneration. It was the first of its kind and remains one of the largest volunteer programs in Australia, specifically designed to protect native vegetation. For over 20 years, BFL has been engaging, training and supporting volunteers to care for bushland, with bushcarers looking after more than 300 sites covering over 4,000 hectares. The BFL program coordinates bushcare volunteers in two ways - via adopting a site, where trained bushcarers regularly maintain an adopted site with support from a skilled BFL Field Officer, or via a Bush Action Team (BAT) event, where bushcare volunteer participate in a full or half day of bushcare activities.
Council has held a partnership with BFL since 1996, delivering a significant contribution to on-ground work to 28 BFL/AHC sites. Council deeply values this partnership for the level of volunteer support they offer and the skillset of the staff. Current Bush For Life Sites on Council Reserves are:
- Pound Reserve
- Yanagin Reserve
- Halliday Reserve
- Mt Barker Road
- Dalton Ave Reserve
- Fernwood Way Reserve
- Strathalbyn Road
- Nation Ridge Road
- Doris Coulls Reserve
- Heron Reserve
- Lobethal Bushland Park
- Smith Rd & Stone Quarry Reserve Kersbrook
- Kersbrook Conservation Reserve
- Bridgewater Recreation Reserve West
- Bridgewater Recreation Reserve East
- Mt. Bold Rd Cutting
- Bagshaw Rd
- Lenswood Park
- Yanagin Road
- Heathfield Conservation Reserve
- Head Conservation Reserv
- Gurr North Reserve
- Hampton Reserve
- Shanks Reserve
- Hender Reserve
- Chapman Reserve
- The Deanery
Prescribed burns are primarily aimed at reducing fuel loads, but if undertaken in coordinated, landscape approach, burning in a mosaic pattern (small parcels) with long intervals between burns, it provides secondary benefits including weed management or other ecological benefits, such as bushland regeneration, improvement of wildlife habitat and overall bush restoration outcomes. It can also have a protective effect on bushland quality when recovering from bushfire, as is the case at Lobethal Bushland Park where the area that underwent a prescribed burn in 2018 is recovering much better than the area that was burnt in the 2019 Cudlee Creek Bushfire. The prescribed burn prevented the bushfire from burning large down large trees and canopy scorching while enabling a greater species diversity in the understorey.
The CFS has been working with Bushfire Management Committees and the community to identify areas at the greatest risk of bushfire across the State through the Bushfire Management Area Planning (BMAP) process. Within these areas the State Government is now working with landholders, including Adelaide Hills Council, to help reduce the bushfire risk that may exist on their land. Numerous strategic sites on Council lands have been identified through the BMAP process, forming part of the DEW's Burning on Private Lands (BOPL) program, endorsed by Council.
Monitoring is a necessary component of the program, to observe and record species' overall response to fire size, intensity and frequency. This is undertaken by Council Biodiversity personnel as it is not a service that DEW provides post fire. A number of photopoints have been established at BOPL sites to provide data on native and exotic plant species and the woodland community's response to fire. The monitoring data is stored with Council, and provides opportunities to inform the DEW Program moving forward.
In 2018 Council initiated a post burn woodland bird monitoring program. This involves biannual surveys at each site to help inform staff and assist Council in its input into the decision making with regard to proposed burn frequencies. The overall intention of the program is to help reduce potential long-term impacts to bird species and their distributions within these Council reserves and across the wider region, where decline of woodland bird species is now well recognised. It has been theorised that frequent burning of native vegetation may be a contributing factor due to the changes to vegetation causes while dealing with other pressure factors, such as reduced habitat quality/range, fragmentation and climate change. The bird monitoring program provides trend data to indicate if further investigation or a more in depth study is warranted to ensure that the program isn't contributing to woodland bird decline. It is also for this reason that the Biodiversity Team inisists on a 'mosaic' (small patch) burning approach, allowing wildlife to seek refuge in other areas of the reserves while the burn site recovers.
The ecologically important Council reserve Lobethal Bushland Park (the Park) offers significant recreational and educational value to many Adelaide Hills locals and tourists alike. It provides valuable natural habitat to native fauna and flora, including nationally threatened plant populations, in a region that has been largely cleared. It's protected by a Heritage Agreement, contains a Bush For Life Site, and has been carefully managed for many years through important partnerships between Council, State Government, Friends of Lobethal Bushland Park (FLBP) and Trees For Life.
In 2019, the Cudlee Creek Bushfire burnt the entire Park. Its recovery was of paramount importance to all key stakeholders and collaborative recovery efforts were coordinated by Council for the Lobethal Bushland Park Bushfire Recovery Project (the Project), enabling immediate and future management issues to be addressed. Starting with public safety and animal welfare, the Project subsequently focussed on reopening the Park, replacing critical infrastructure and post-fire weed management crucial to preserving the environmental values of the park. A Masterplan is currently underway to ensure future access and infrastructure considerations are coordinated effectively. Resources have been contributed from Council operational budgets, Federal and State Grant monies and numerous hours of volunteer and Council staff labour
The Project has set a high standard for bushfire recovery management in reserves in South Australia. Although operational budgets for the Park were insufficient to fulfil all the necessary recovery measures, Council secured additional resources through the Federal Government emergency bushfire funding, various Federal and State grant opportunities and Park insurance claims. Council also mobilised on-ground in-kind assistance from the Australian Army, Team Rubicon, Bush For Life, CVA and the dedicated Friends of the Park. Following the initial reinstatement of infrastructure and significant weed management efforts, Council is confident in securing long term sustainability of the park, through strong partnerships and collaborations. These include annual Park and playground maintenance schedules and conservation programs and initiatives such as the Native Vegetation Council's Heritage Agreement Program, Bush For Life Program, Friends of Lobethal Bushland Park works program, annual bushcare works program through the Council's LBP Vegetation Management Plan and Landscapes Hills and Fleurieu Work Plans, the Council's e Register, NCSSA's Woodland Bird Monitoring Program, and Bushland Assessment Method vegetation monitoring. Bushfire recovery within the Park is a collaborative effort. It is recognised amongst all key stakeholders that for our shared project goals and objectives to be realised, restoration and conservation efforts must continue well beyond the current project timeframes and become part of ongoing business.
In 2021, the Project was shortlisted as a finalist for the 20th Annual Local Government Professionals Australia, SA Leadership Excellence Awards.